Next Phase Public Health, Starts Saturday – Based On Key Indicators

Once approved on Thursday, April 30, new public health orders will be in effect for the month of May. The orders in their entirety will be posted on the county webpage at sanmiguelcountyco.gov/coronavirus.

For further information, go to tellmed.org/coronavirus. For more San Miguel County updates, go here.

On Tuesday, April 28, County Public Health officials today presented their proposed draft recommendations for the renewal of Public Health Orders to the Board of Health to go into effect Saturday, May 2, in this mitigation stage of the COVID-19 pandemic. New orders should be in effect through May 31.

The new orders shift from the “stay at home” to “safer at home” model, which allows for many local businesses to operate with strict guidelines.

Public Health uses a number of key indicators to inform their decisions about whether to transition to different phases within the orders.

“Testing, contact tracing, caseloads and trends, and hospital capacity are what we analyze to make decisions as to whether we are ready to enter the next phase or, if necessary, tighten orders,” County Public Health Director Grace Franklin said.

The availability of COVID-19 tests and staffing, as well as receiving test results in a timely manner, remain a critical component.

Contact-tracing is a method public health uses to identify persons who may have had exposure to an infected individual and trace their contacts in an effort to test, isolate, and reduce infections in the community. To be of value, contact tracing requires trained staff, resource support, active monitoring, and compliance with isolation measures.

Public Health monitors community cases and trends including the number of new COVID-19 cases per day, chains of transmission, and other local clinic data.

Hospital capacity is also monitored since the county is dependent on regional facilities in other counties. Public health looks not only at the number of COVID-19 cases admitted and the availability of ICU beds, but also at the hospitals’ ability to handle other medical demands.

“We are using the ‘SMART’ decision-making model when we analyze all of this,” Franklin said.

SMART stands for “Specific, Measurable, Achievable or Attainable, Relevant, and Time bound” to set public health objectives and goals.

The new “safer at home” model requires employers to keep their workforce to county residents only to help continue to contain disease spread.

“The more people move from place to place, the more they are at risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19. We looked at the state’s orders and our best next step is to open up our non-critical workforce to San Miguel County residents,” Grace Franklin, County Public Health Director said. “The new orders will also give consumers more access to goods and services, thereby providing some stimulation to the economy.”

“Employers and employees must follow necessary restrictions such as social distancing and wearing face masks to help continue to keep our COVID-19 curve flattened,” Franklin said.

High-risk populations, (over 65 years of age, pre-existing heart, lung or kidney disease, immune-compromised, etc.) are strongly encouraged to continue best practices to protect themselves. Safe practices will continue to include staying at home except for essential errands.

Those who are vulnerable or at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 should continue to follow stay-at-home recommendations, which means only leaving their homes for essential activities.

People should feel free to recreate within reason within their communities.

People should be prepared for public health orders to be extended or amended as needed to protect public health.

“Our hope is that we continue to move forward and get back to a new normal,” Franklin said.

County Medical Officer Dr. Sharon Grundy said that everyone must do their part:

“The only way this works is for all of us to continue to practice social distancing, use of facial coverings in public, and limiting gatherings to no more than ten people.”

 

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